Gender differences in learning styles and strategies between adolescent second language learners

Josephine Ann-Marie Dundas

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Second language enrolments, especially among boys, have declined markedly in our secondary schools over the last thirty years. Most research into this decline has been concerned with understanding what students do not like about language study. The present study took a different perspective, looking at classes in two schools where second language learning is popular and enrolments were high for both genders. The study sought to find which aspects of learning styles and strategies each gender enjoyed as a way to provide information to improve classroom language study and enrolment, particularly among boys. The study involved two, private schools, one boys’ and one girls’ — from the same socio-economic background. The schools were chosen because they had high enrolments in second languages, allowing meaningful amounts of data to be obtained. The single gender classes also permitted clear analysis of which classroom behaviours and activities suited each gender. A mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods was used. Data were collected using a student questionnaire, classroom observations and teacher interviews. Gender differences were found in a number of aspects of learning styles and strategies. Girls favoured collaborative learning styles that emphasised experience and support. Boys favoured a learning style emphasising clear parameters and expectations and opportunities to produce comprehensible output in the target language. The study found that teachers matched speaking activities to the preferred learning styles of the gender being taught. Further, it was found that while girls generally enjoyed groups of all sizes, boys preferred to practise speaking activities in pairs. Boys were found to be more confident about speaking activities than girls and both genders’ use of the target language reflected gender differences in communication in the first language
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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